As the U.S. population ages and people stay healthy and active longer, communities must adapt. The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities helps participating communities become inclusive places for people of all ages by adopting features that promote health and sustain economic growth, and make for happier, healthier residents.
The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities is an affiliate of the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities, an international effort launched to help cities prepare for their own and the world’s growing population of older adults and the parallel trend of urbanization. To date, Florida participation consists of seven municipalities. The City of Winter Park seeks to become the eighth. A three-year grant of $55,300 was recently awarded by the Winter Park Health Foundation to make this possible.
Being an age-friendly community requires a commitment to a cycle of continuous improvements that consist of the following phases and related activities:
Entering the Network
- Obtain the commitment of the community’s elected officials, organize stakeholders, conduct assessments to identify needs, and establish an advisory committee that includes older adults.
- The assessment provides a baseline of the community’s age-friendliness in the eight domains of livability: Outdoor Spaces and Buildings, Transportation, Housing, Social Participation, Respect and Social Inclusion, Civic Participation and Employment, Communication and Information, and Community and Health Services.
- AARP has developed a survey that can be adapted by communities to help assess available resources and what residents view as important for successfully aging in place.
- Develop a three-year, community-wide action plan based on assessment findings and identify indicators to monitor progress against this plan.
Implementation and Evaluation
- After the endorsement of the action plan, the next phase is implementation, which is when the community commits to moving forward.
- At this point, evaluation becomes an ongoing process, demonstrating progress against the baseline assessments previously identified. Evaluation helps determine ways to improve the action plan and demonstrate whether the strategies and action items are meeting the intended outcomes.